On June 25th, 1950, the Korean War began with North Korean invading South Korea. North Korean forces swiftly overwhelmed the opposing South Korean Army and its American allies, capturing Seoul in three days and driving the remainder of both forces nearly into the sea. After a massive effort and years of fighting, US forces managed to repel North Korea, and its ally China, to the status quo ante. North Korea, loudly saber rattling of late, retains the world’s fifth largest military.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA: WHAT’S NEXT ON IRAN AND THE MIDDLE EAST?
** QUICK HITS. Michael Jackson, one-time King of Pop, died today in Los Angeles at the age of 50. Cause of death? Cardiac arrest. It’s a bit mysterious, as much of his life has been since he was the biggest music star in the world in the 1980s. … Iconic TV star Farrah Fawcett died today in Santa Monica of a long-time cancer at age 62. The Charlie’s Angels star was a classic pin-up model of the ’70s and ’80s who became a serious, award-winning actress. She had publicly suffered from cancer for years and finally succumbed today. … California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis moved no closer to resolution today as Democratic legislators, their plan failing yesterday as long anticipated here and elsewhere, came up with a stopgap plan to free up some cash for a state government about to run out by cutting some school spending and delaying payments to agencies. It won Democratic and Republican votes in the Assembly but failed in the Senate, where it was opposed by all Republicans and some Democrats.
** NEW POLL: CALIFORNIANS AND INFOTECH. A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that Californians’ use of broadband Internet connections is up significantly over the past year, but that a digital divide remains. Now 62% of Californians have broadband access, up from 55% last year. Another 5% have lower-speed Internet access. 75% of Californians say they have some form of computer.
Use of social networking media is up from 28% to 37%, though only 18% use Twitter. Among Californians under 35, Twitter usage is 31%. That’s the group that has adopted social networking in general, with 63% using it to some extent, compared with only 31% from age 35 to 54 and only 16% for 55 and up.
84% of Californians have mobile phones. 65% use text messaging, 30% use their phones to get on the web, and 29% use them for e-mail.
Now about the digital divide …
The digital divide persists between Latinos and other groups. While Latinos increased their Internet use (53% today, 48% 2008), the growth among whites was greater (88% today, 81% 2008). Whites’ computer use (89% today, 85% 2008) increased by about the same amount as Latinos’ (61% today, 58% 2008). Latinos today are far less likely to use computers and the Internet than Asians (87% computers, 85% Internet) and blacks (89%, 81%).
Nearly all high-income Californians use a computer and the Internet. Ninety-seven percent of Californians with household incomes of $80,000 or more use computers and the same percentage use the Internet. Those with household incomes of less than $40,000 are far less likely to report doing either (65% use computers, 58% use the Internet).
Intriguingly, the biggest users of social networking sites are African Americans, with 55% using them at least occasionally. 44% of Asians use social media, compared to 39% of whites and 28% of Latinos.
** WHAT NEXT IN CALIFORNIA’S CHRONIC-TURNED-CHAOTIC BUDGET CRISIS? With yesterday’s very predictable collapse of the Democratic budget plan, what’s next?
Well, unless a budget is put together very swiftly, or unless Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget is swiftly adopted, California’s state government will have to begin issuing IOUs in lieu of payment on July 2nd.
There are no good options here, and most of what seemed inevitable weeks ago seems inevitable today.
President Barack Obama met with five governors yesterday to discuss health care reform.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have had their daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have also participated in a “United We Serve” volunteer service event at the Fort McNair Fitness Center.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the importance of passing a new, green-oriented energy bill in the White House Rose Garden.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with members of Congress from both parties to discuss immigration in the State Dining Room.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 3:30 PM Pacific, Obama, Michelle Obama, and Biden host a luau for members of Congress and their families on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama is of course monitoring the situation in Iran, where protests Saturday fizzled in the face of a massive security presence and violence ordered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and now Thursday in Iran mostly passed quietly, with only a scattering of street protests.
The time in Tehran is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of California.
The Iranian regime, having largely shut down the protest movement, is moving now to brand it as largely an invention of foreign manipulators.
The real action in Iran may be the infighting amongst the ruling elite.
There are various rumors about the whereabouts and activities of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, the former prime minister under Ayatollah Khomeini. He does seem to have urged his supporters to be more circumspect in their opposition with various symbolic acts that don’t directly challenge the Islamic state, which he says he continues to support. Communicating almost entirely through his web site, Mousavi nonethless vows to fight on, though to what effect is another matter.
Obama is also closely monitoring several other crises: In North Korea, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
North Korea may launch a long-range missile toward Obama’s home state of Hawaii on the 4th of July, and continues saber-rattling rhetoric and acts. The US Navy, in the form of the destroyer USS John McCain, is following the passage of a suspect North Korean ship, which is hugging the China coast, first believed headed to Singapore and then believed headed (with a cargo of missiles) to Burma. But Burmese authorities now say the ship won’t be coming there.
Does North Korea have its own Flying Dutchman?
And Obama’s new Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal, has been in country with his new leadership team for a week. He is urging his new subordinates to be very conscious of Afghan civilian sentiments even as he preps aggressive special ops programs against the Taliban.
The Pakistani Army offensive against the Taliban is widening, with troops going into the longtime jihadist stronghold of Waziristan. There have been no major terrorist bombings in reprisal for going on two weeks. But the country’s refugee problem continues.
Some three million Pakistanis left their homes to avoid the offensive against the Taliban. Many refuse to return to their homes, worried that electric power and water won’t be available and not convinced that fighting between the Pakistani Army and Taliban won’t flare up again.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger engages in private meetings and discussions in and around the Capitol, mostly focusing on California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
He has no scheduled public events.
The Legislature, as anticipated here for months, yesterday failed to pass the Democratic budget alternative.
Not only did the bill fail to garner any Republican support, it actually lost a few Democrats.
According to state Controller John Chiang, the state will have to begin issuing IOUs on July 2nd if a budget is not promptly enacted.
** STAR TREK FIRSTS … 43 YEARS ON. Some 43 years after it began, and seven years after the movie franchise seemed completely played out, Star Trek is making firsts again. And so far, it’s the most popular movie of the year in America. …
** OBAMA AND THE AYATOLLAH. Two weeks after his landmark address in Cairo, where he honored traditional Islam and extolled engagement with modern Islam, President Barack Obama finds himself in a conundrum. Determining what to do about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who just told the people of Iran, in an unusual nationally-televised sermon at the end of Friday prayers, to stop acting like they live in a democracy.
It’s a particularly tricky question for Obama, because he has an unusual dual role to play: Inspirational global icon and president of the United States.
As the president of the United States, it’s Obama’s job to figure out the needs of America and go about meeting them. As a global icon, he is expected to inspire. … From my June 19th column.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: NORTH KOREA, AGAIN. President Barack Obama changed the old kabuki in dealing with his second North Korean crisis. The first time around, back in April, dealing with a long-range missile test that failed to place a satellite in orbit, Obama treated the effort as more of the same rather baffling attention-seeking by the Hermit Kingdom. This time, after a string of provocations including an underwhelming underground nuclear detonation, a series of missile launches, and the imprisonment of two California-based journalists, Obama went in another, tougher, direction that may lead to a naval confrontation. … From my June 12th column.
** REMEMBERING AMERICA: OBAMA’S D-DAY SPEECH AND TWO DAYS IN JUNE. There’s no question that timing is, as it were, of the essence in politics. Consider the timing of President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, coming as it did just two days before the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Most focus simply on the Cairo speech. But that speech exists in a larger context, alongside the speech over the weekend in Normandy which bookended it on Obama’s second big international tour.
On Thursday in Cairo, Obama gave his rhetorical best to reposition a mostly peaceful America in the future of the Muslim world. On Saturday in Normandy, he reminded of America’s glittering, and far more martial, past. … From my June 8th column.
** REPOSITIONING AMERICA: OBAMA’S CAIRO SPEECH AS THE ULTIMATE IN EVENT MARKETING. … From my June 4th column.
** TERMINATING THE DARKNESS: HOPE FLOATS, BUT ANXIETY ABIDES. … From my May 31st column.
** THE AVOIDABLE TRAGEDY OF CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8. … From my May 26th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW CALIFORNIA-BASED CLIMATE POLICY: SIX KEY THINGS TO KNOW. … From my May 20th column.
** 24 AND THE TORTUOUS POLITICS OF TORTURE. … From my May 18th column.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th Huffington Post column.
With President Obama’s big Moscow summit coming up in less than two weeks, NWN will start focusing in on Russia/US relations. Moscow, “city of billionaires,” has taken a big hit in the great global downturn.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record last July 11th, crude oil is trading around $70 per barrel.
This is up about $36 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, due in part to some positive economic signs and in part to geopolitical jitters over North Korea and Iran. The price is down a few dollars over the past few days, reflecting an easing of some tensions in Iran.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.